Here is a repost of my original article. I find it is a good introduction to the Tarot and what it can/can’t do. I like to use it as a lead in to teaching tarot to beginners.
Understanding Tarot: Beyond the Myths
by Christin Snyder
There are many misconceptions surrounding the Tarot that have caused much debate. For the past 15 years I have used the Tarot as an instrument to gain understanding and insight. In this time I have had to grow into this tool also, learning through experience what it can and cannot do. Tarot is not a fortune telling device as often depicted. It is not a magic wand that lays out an easy future by providing all the answers in advance. The future is not set in stone, our use of free will determines what directions we take and if we believe otherwise, we give our power away to circumstance.
Simply put, Tarot is an instrument used to gain deeper insight & understanding through symbology and exploration. It is a tool for personal transformation through the combined usage of psychology and spirituality. It enhances awareness, and in the process expands horizons by highlighting choices and scenarios by laying it all out before us. Living an empowered life means understanding that the future is not entirely predestined. I believe we come here knowing and allowing ourselves to have certain experiences, but we also shape those experiences through integration of what we have learned. Just like a grade in school, you have certain objectives and lessons that are part of the goal plan. Some students will succeed, others will not make the goal, but each student shapes his/her own learning experience through effort and application. Tarot, when used properly, was never intended to be “magic”, just a tool for insight to help the querrent make more empowered decisions. It acts as a sort of study guide, enhancing the learning process through displaying repeating behavior patterns, potential consequences/rewards for ones actions, and possible choices. The Tarot through its series of images tells a story, each card represents different personality traits, attitudes, actions etc, and through these pictures a story begins to emerge. The ultimate outcome is entirely in the hands of the one seeking the guidance.
As with anything else misunderstood, it is human nature to fear and label things which can be viewed as a potential threat. Things that are different are frightening and often labeled as evil outright, rather than explored. Remember, we live in a society that burned people alive only a few hundred years ago because of fears of evil. I am reminded of the famous quote ”The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”. Human nature in a fear state is a peculiar phenomenon that causes those in its grip to say, do, and believe some rather absurd things. The whole propaganda about Tarot being associated with Satanism and the Devil is flat out nonsense. No, the Tarot was not written about or condemned in the Bible or any other holy book for that matter, as the Tarot did not even come into existence until somewhere between the 14th and 15th century AD. We must remember to keep our holy books in context, as they are meant to be taken symbolically and not literally. If we were to actually take some of these books literally we would still be stoning women, sacrificing animals, and smiting our neighbors. As with anything else, the Golden Rule applies: “Do unto others”.
The vast majority of us who use Tarot in our daily lives are no more evil than anyone else. We work jobs, raise families, and socialize with the rest of the community and do otherwise perfectly “normal” things. We don’t all have big head dresses and speak in funny accents telling others we have mystical magical powers and can change lives, bring people lovers, or dole out winning lotto numbers. The charlatans who practice this kind of thing, and propagate these misconceptions aren’t evil either, they are just plain greedy and eager to capitalize on the pain and misunderstanding of others. I’have seen just as much greed in many churches & temples, so i would advise people to not jump to conclusions, but to research and try to gain understanding into how this tool works before labeling it as anything.
Legitimate Tarot Readers, Psychics and other such advisors believe in building people up as we show them all the options and potential choices surrounding present conditions, and help them to come to terms with issues from the past that may be shaping their current perceptions. A genuine Tarot reader does not present Tarot as something that only the elite can master. Many of your more reputable Tarot readers teach and are usually happy to share Tarot knowledge and personal insights with those who are learning. The mark of a genuine psychic is empowerment, not dependency. A truly gifted healing practitioner does not seek to enslave a querrent to their guidance, but to show them how to find the connection with their own inner guidance.
Another common misconception is the tendency to link Tarot Readers and Psychics together into one category. One does not have to be a practicing psychic to use the Tarot, however many psychics, myself included, started out on our paths reading Tarot. Tarot can be a tool to help enhance and aid the intuition, and that often opens people up to further abilities. Once I developed psychically, i never gave up my love for Tarot. I still use it often, in combination with my other abilities, to read for myself and others. Tarot serves as a validation to my other senses, and frankly is very old-habit to me so it is easier. I guess it’s almost like that old security blanket one reaches for because its comfortable, out of habit and not necessity.
I use the cards for many purposes, inspiration for writing, meditation, reflection, asking Spirit for guidance when I feel confused, etc. The possibilities are limitless, as are the many different types of decks available. There are decks that represent many different spiritual paths, styles of art, languages etc. making it easy to find one that fits right with the individual. They are not restricted to any one faith system, there are Christian decks, Kabbala decks, Angel decks and many more. There are decks for different levels of reading ability as well. Beginners may find that extremely intricate decks filled with tons of symbology or a lot of intense artwork distracts from the learning process. I recommend starting out with a more standard deck such as the Rider-Waite or Universal-Waite decks, or ones based on these. Different decks can be acquired once a feel for the Tarot has been developed. Many of the learning guides and courses for beginners that are available are developed around these decks.
When in the market to find a Tarot deck, there are numerous resources available to review them, see what others have to say and to view samples of the images. One of my personal favorites is http://www.aeclectic.net/tarot/ which features images and reviews of hundreds of decks. The key is finding what one is naturally drawn to, and I explain more about this in my other articles. I also provide free Tarot readings, below-retail Tarot decks, as well as other great resources through my own website: http://www.SpiritualGuidanceTarot.com